Or Enjoying Guilty Pleasures
His ears perked up . . . it was the unmistakable sound of the crackling of a cellophane wrapper.
When our horse, Dino, would hear that sound, he became visibly excited. He knew a peppermint treat was nearby. Horses love the flavors of peppermint and molasses and it’s amazing when you stop to think about a two-thousand-pound animal racing in from the pasture for a little round peppermint candy. He also loved Stud Muffins—a fitting treat name for our dinosaur-sized gelding—cookies made from oats and dried apples that were held together with molasses.
We’ve used positive reinforcement—rewarding with treats—to train all our animals. The dogs loved beef-and-chicken-flavored treats. And peanut butter. The ding of the toaster would wake the dogs, who had been sleeping at the other side of the house, and send then running to the kitchen in anticipation of peanut butter toast.
When the kids were little, we would offer rewards for good behavior, or a job well done. The weekly trip to the grocery store . . . a difficult task for any child . . . was made much less stressful with the promise of a reward at the checkout. Each child could select one item from the irresistible display of candy and individually wrapped gifts on either side of the conveyor belt.
It was our regular ritual to go out for pizza or ice cream after sports practice, a big game or a competition. I don’t think they played sports just to get the ice cream or pizza, but it was fun for the whole family.
As adults, we call our treats—our rewards for good behavior—guilty pleasures. We don’t wait for someone to give us candy or take us out for pizza or ice cream; we reward ourselves. When I was still eating dairy, one of my favorites was Häagen-Dazs coffee ice cream. Straight out of the pint-sized carton with nothing but a spoon. I’d eat the whole container in one sitting . . . it was fantastic! And it was most enjoyable when no one was watching. I’d feel guilty if anyone saw me indulging. And I do miss it. Chalk that one up to another drag about aging—no dairy.
Our guilty pleasures aren’t always sweet treats. Sometimes it’s shopping . . . new shoes anyone? We earned it! Right? Another one of my favorites is watching Hallmark movies. I look forward to Thanksgiving when the Christmas movies start. At the end of the workweek, settling under a plush throw, reclining to just the perfect angle for sipping wine and snacking on the ultimate assortment of popcorn, dark chocolate, and black licorice. Everything’s laid out just so. It’s heaven . . . until my husband walks in. Then I feel compelled to do something productive.
The other day, I heard the unmistakable sound of a Hallmark movie coming from the living room. “I must have left the TV on,” I thought.
As I rounded the corner, there, reclined at the perfect angle with a bag of treats at the ready, was none other than my husband. He was engrossed in the love triangle playing out on the screen. He was startled when I cleared my throat,
“The remote’s not working,” he said. “I’m stuck watching one of your ridiculous movies, but I’m not really watching it.”
Bologna Cake! He was caught!